After the Final Moral Monday Where do We Go?
By Rachel L. West, MSW, LMSW
The Political Social Worker
About three months ago Moral Monday protests began in North Carolina. The protests were aimed at the Republican controlled legislature that was quickly enacting destructive laws.
Most recently the General Assembly amended the state’s voting laws in a manner that will make it harder, particularly for minorities, to participate in elections. Voters must now show ID at the polls (the type of ID deemed valid in limited and many voters do not possess what is considered proper identification under the new law), eliminates same day voter registration, abolishes pre-registration for 16-17 year olds and much more (source). Every policy they did away with was the type of policy that improves voter registration and engagement. It is exactly the type of action a governing body takes when attempting to suppress voting.
On Monday North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory signed legislation that will severely limit a woman’s access to abortion services. Doctors working in abortion clinics must have admitting privileges at local hospitals and publicly funded health insurances will not be able to pay for abortions. This despite abortion being a legal medical procedure in the United States. Reproductive justice advocates fear that many clinics will not be able to meet the new standards.
The state legislature has made extreme cuts to unemployment benefits and to medicaid. The state’s budget has cut or eliminated funding to many much needed programs. $2,000,000 will be cut from the N.C. Institute of Minority Economic Development. According to Nonprofit Quarterly that constitutes 70% of the nonprofits budget which means they must reorganize or close (source). The same article reports that Biofuels North Carolina, which lost the entirety of their state funding, will close.
A more recent article states that Biofuel is attempting to stay afloat by cutting jobs. The center employs 78 workers. They are asking older workers to voluntarily resign (source).
North Carolina’s schools have not been spared the wrath of the General Assembly. The states budget moved to faze out tenure, eliminated bonuses for teaches that earn a Masters degree, and would freeze teachers salaries (a policy that has already been in place for five years). It will also cut funding for classroom aides.
Recently North Carolina became the first state to make major cuts to unemployment benefits. The legislature reduced the number of weeks out of work residents are eligible for unemployment benefits. Because of the reduction in weekly benefits the state is now ineligible for $700 million in federal aid (source).
This week was the final Moral Monday, as the General Assembly closed its session for the year. Since the protest started this spring close to 900 people have been voluntarily arrested for civil disobedience. Winn Bassett and Nick Pironio from The Atlantic wrote an excellent account about volunteering for arrest at a Moral Monday demonstration that you can read here.
Moral Monday was organized by Reverend William Barber, President of North Carolina’s NAACP. You can listen to or read the transcript of an interview he did this week with NPR here.
On Thursday August 1st Social Work Chats by Social Work Helper will be be discussing moral Monday and where the movement goes next.
To participate you need a Twitter account. Please include the hashtag #swunited in all your tweets. The chat will begin at 8:00 PM EST. Deona Hooper will be moderating from the Social Work Helper Twitter account, @swhelpercom. You can find out more about Social Work Chats by visiting Social Work Helper.